Rich Gannon with Troy Aikman

NFL, SPORTS

Rich Gannon’s 9 elements that make a successful NFL quarterback

April 30, 2014

As the NFL Draft approaches, there has been a lot of discussion as to which college quarterback’s skills will translate to the NFL. Longtime NFL quarterback, four-time Pro Bowler, 2002 NFL MVP and SiriusXM Blitz host Rich Gannon examined the nine qualities he thinks make a successful quarterback in the NFL.


1. Intelligence

Intelligence is absolutely critical. I’m talking about football intelligence. I’m talking about the ability to process information [...] Your responsibilities are immense. You need to know what everybody on the field is doing.

2. Toughness

 It’s a physical toughness and a mental toughness. You have to be a physically tough guy to sit in there week in and week out and be willing to get hit in the face [...] You have to be a guy that can handle adversity. And you have to be able to stand up there and take the tough questions after a loss.

3. Accuracy

Typically when you’re throwing the ball in college, there is some space. There are some windows. There are some lanes. There are some opportunities. When you get into the NFL [...] to the young quarterbacks, it doesn’t look like the [receivers] are open. The windows are so small, they’re so tight [...] you have to be able to fit the ball in some tight windows.

4. Arm Strength

You may not overpower people with your arm, but you have to be able to make every throw [...] you gotta be able to drive the ball in the weather.

5. Decision-making

 It gets back a little bit to the intelligence thing [...] it gets back to really understanding the game, understanding coverages, understanding situational football. And really understanding what your strengths and what your limitations are.

 6. Movement Skills

In order to play this position, you have to be able to move. You have to be able to protect yourself. You have to be able to survive in and outside the pocket [...] guys that can’t move, guys that can’t protect themselves, don’t last.

7. Anticipation

We talk about these windows open and close so quickly in the NFL, you have to be able to get the ball out early. You have to be able to anticipate holes in coverage [...] anticipation is so important.

8. Delivery Quickness

Cornerbacks are so good nowadays, as soon as they see you cock that arm, they’re already out of their break and they’re driving on the curl, or the flat, or the comeback [...] the ball has to come out quick.

9. Ball Security

There’s three things that can happen when you throw the football and two of them aren’t very good. The most important lesson I learned is that your job as the quarterback is that when that play is over that we still possess the football.


Catch Rich Gannon and Bruce Murray on The SiriusXM Blitz, weekdays from 11 am to 3 pm ET on SiriusXM NFL Radio, channel 88. Don’t miss SiriusXM NFL Radio’s coverage of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8th-10th, and follow them on Twitter @SiriusXMNFL.